The annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is January 18-25, 2020. It’s a time to remember Jesus’ prayer for his disciples that “they may be one so that the world may believe” (John 17.21). The 2020 theme, “They showed us unusual kindness," is based on Acts 28:2.
During the week, congregations and parishes all over the world exchange preachers or arrange special ecumenical celebrations and prayer services -- and there's something special planned at Sharon First United Methodist Church on Jan. 19.
On Sunday, January 19, Sharon First United Methodist Church will mark the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and celebrate 10 years of Full Communion with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) during an 11 a.m. worship service. Bishop Mike Lozano of the ELCA’s Northwestern Pennsylvania Synod will preach and Bishop Cynthia Moore- Koikoi of the Western PA Conference of the United Methodist Church will co-celebrate communion.
Bishop Lozano was pastor of Christ Lutheran Church in Sharon when he was elected on June 15, 2019, to serve a six-year term as bishop of the Northwestern Pennsylvania Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). While serving as pastor of Christ Church, he and the Rev. Doug Dyson, pastor of Sharon First UMC, became friends and met for breakfast each Friday along with a group of other pastors.
“He still comes to breakfast,” Dyson said. “Since he was installed as bishop in October, he’s been attending different Lutheran churches for worship to get to know them and mentioned that it felt strange not having to write and deliver a sermon every Sunday. So I invited him to preach at our church when he was available. Now we can celebrate the 10th year of the Full Communion agreement during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.”
After graduating from Mansfield (PA) University and earning a Master of Divinity degree, Bishop Lozano served churches in Florida and eastern PA from 1993-2007, then served full-time as U.S. Army Reserve chaplain from 2008-2014. He earned the rank of colonel and served in Iraq. He received a Master of Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pa., in 2015.